括号中是译注。感谢翻译群各位朋友的帮助！烟起之处 WHERE THERE’S SMOKE “他们会在这里停车。”女孩说道，手顺着一列如同环保主义的失败的标志一般杵在街道上的人工树木，指向一个装饰着砖面的、名叫“执行官身体强化”的赛博诊所。
“告诉我你对此很有信心，虫虫。”查理·驯马（Charlie Broken Horse）说道。
劇透 - :
“They’ll park right there.” The girl said and pointed along a line of artificial trees, sunken into the street like signposts of failed environmentalism, to a brick-faced cyber clinic called Executive Body Enhancements.
“Tell me you’re sure about this, bug.” Charlie Broken Horse said.
Ladybug rolled her eyes; the action unconsciously shifted her heavy eye makeup from purple to deep red. She was hardly tall enough to see over the steering wheel of her Porsche Aguilar. Ladybug couldn’t have been more than one-and-a-half meters, maybe 45 kilos if you counted all the gear she was packing. She looked like a girl scout on the way to a camping trip or a tech repairman’s sidekick. She would have resented both comparisons.
“I only nicked two spotter drones to run interference and a third is orbiting for coverage,” the hacker said. “I’ll still be able still handle the limo and take out the driver.”
“No, I mean are you sure this is the guy?”
She folded her arms. “Riser tailed this guy for weeks. He had me checking into all his financials as well as doing detailed cyber-surveillance on every fragging step he took outside the NeoNET Tower. The last ping Riser sent was less than ten meters from this guy. What does that tell you?”
“It means he was close, but are we sure we know why? Riser hasn’t exactly been himself lately, you know?”
“I don’t care if he’s been the frakking Queen of England. He was close to this guy when he went dark, so this is where we look.”
And there was no question that they would look. Their friend and partner had been working a case when he went missing, and that wasn’t something you let slide. They didn’t know what the job he had been working on involved or any details about it at all; they just knew that now that he was gone, it was their job to find him.
瓢虫开口说：“操，那是凯瑟琳·米娅·罗德里格斯（Katherine Mya Rodriguez）！你知道的，那个在那些拟感片里扮演玛利亚·水银（Maria Mercurial，传奇歌手）的人！她一定也是在这里完成工作的。”
劇透 - :
The adept tried to stretch out in the passenger seat, but every movement found him wedged up against some part of the car’s interior. He didn’t know how much longer he could sit inside the cramped Aguilar, but his punker gear and traditional Sioux war paint meant he couldn’t wait outside the car. There were some parts of town where he could get away with a look like that and not be noticed at all, but this wasn’t one of them.
“Remember where we are,” Ladybug said. “In Bellevue, police response will be under three minutes from the moment you pull your gun. We need to be gone by then.”
He nodded, studying the street and nearby clinic. Vashon Island was the fashion of the day. Pedestrians strolled along in groups and pairs taking in the wash of neon signage and flashing AROs glaring above their heads. A limousine slipped out of the queue and eased to a stop in front of Executive Body Enhancements. Two Centurion Security officers flanked the doorway, faces blank like good security guards should be. They stepped forward at the sight of the vehicle. The limo doors opened, and an attractive blond woman stepped out under the cover of a red umbrella. Charlie tensed and reached for the door.
Ladybug said, “Drek, that’s Katherine Mya Rodriguez! You know, the one who played Maria Mercurial in those sims! She must get work done here too.”
Charlie was more interested in the security. He watched the officers move out past the first set of double doors to meet the client. The outer doors were made of clear ballistic glass, virtually bulletproof. They snapped shut behind the client, and a second set of doors opened. Charlie knew this type of system was popular in high-end cyber clinics. In addition to being an important security protocol designed to lock out unwanted elements, the space between the doors circulated air through a purifier system, making it a bacterial buffer zone. Charlie started to say something, but Ladybug cut him off. “Tying my shoes is harder than slaving those doors to stay open or shut. It won’t be a problem.”
He smiled and relaxed. But only a little.
“变化越多就变化越少（Plus ça change，一句法国谚语），小虫虫，”查理说道，“或者就像我的族人说的，自然伟力的一切造物，都以圆环的形式造成（everything the power does, it does in a circle，这是拉科塔苏族诗人黑麋鹿（Black Elk）作品中的一句话）。”
早在叛乱者失踪之前，臭名昭著的吸烟者俱乐部成员间的一切就已分崩离析。凯林（Kai-lin）越来越多地单独为极道干活。塞塔（Seta）走进一间DIMR（Dunkelzahn Institute of Magical Research，黑牙魔法研究院）的办公室要求一份工作。多亏了汤米·泰隆（Tommy Talon，人类法师，和龙打交道不少）的正面推荐，她真的得到了一份工作。那之后他们就再也没有从他们的法师那里收到消息了。
“你想往前回溯多远？回到共鸣找上你之前？回到希丝塔比（Hestaby，巨龙内战后被流放的巨龙）流亡，或者黑牙（Dunkehlzahn，为对抗怖物下了一盘大棋的巨龙总统）被刺杀之前？或者你说的是甚至更之前，在我们知道UGE（Unexplained Genetic Expression，无法解释的基因表现，即新生儿变成精灵或矮人的现象）是什么之前，在你还穿着尿布而我因为说自己看到了精魂而被踢屁股之前？”他摇了摇头，然后往一旁啐了一口，“过去并不像我们记得的那么美好，虫虫。”
劇透 - :
“How far back do you want to go? Before the resonance found you? Before Hestaby went into exile, or Dunkehlzahn was assassinated? Or are you talking about even further back, before we knew what UGE was, when you were in diapers and I was getting my ass kicked for saying I saw spirits? Are those the good old days you want?” He shook his head, then spat to one side. “The past is never as good as we remember it, bug.”
Despite that little monologue, part of him agreed with her. Too many of the people he’d started running with were dead or out of the biz. He was getting older and the shadows darker. He’d grown used to things being one way, and suddenly they weren’t that way anymore. Some people get scared and overreact when that happens. They fight against the change. Charlie had seen enough change come and go that he knew he couldn’t stop it. He just tried to keep it from killing him. With Riser missing and the Smokers scattered like ash, the only constant he could count on was the power of the megacorps. No matter how much the shadows changed, they would always be up there, filling the sky and blotting out the light. That meant there would always be work for people like him.
“The point is,” he said, hoping Ladybug didn’t notice his pause for thought, “you can’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”
Ladybug snorted. “Is that another one the things your people say?”
“The Cherokee, actually. But who keeps track?”
She rolled her eyes, and her makeup shifted to green.
“My spotters just locked on to his limo, so if you’re getting cold feet about this run, you better get over it real quick.”
不久后一辆三菱·夜空在诊所前渐渐停下。像之前一样，保安们走向街道去迎接顾客。迈出车门的第一个人是一个看起来就知道怎么照顾好自己的巨魔保镖。查理又多等了几秒钟。他想要看清楚目标的脸。如果他足够幸运的话，这位艾瑞克·雷顿（Eric Leiden）博士身上就有所有查理想要的答案。这位科学家，这个狗管理（MFIC, Mother Fucker In Charge），最后爬出夜空的车门。他有着篮球运动员的身高和骷髅的体格。一套黑西装和雨衣松垮地挂在他的骨架子上。雷顿惨白的皮肤和头发看起来比起一个人类更适合一个吸血鬼。
劇透 - :
Moments later a Mitsubishi Nightsky rolled to a stop in front of the clinic. As before, the guards walked into the street to meet the client. The first person to step out was a troll bodyguard who looked like he knew how to handle himself. Charlie waited a second longer. He wanted to see the target’s face. If he
was lucky, Dr. Eric Leiden had all the answers Charlie needed. The scientist, the MFIC, climbed out of the Nightsky last. He was basketball tall and skeleton thin. A black suit and raincoat hung loosely on his frame. Lieden’s pasty skin and hair seemed better suited for a vampire than a man.
Charlie popped open the Aguilar’s door and said, “Stay put until—”
“I know the plan, chummer.”
He gave her shoulder a re-assuring squeeze and slid out of the Aguilar, falling into step behind a group of pedestrians moving in the direction of the clinic. When he was close enough, he broke into a jog. Charlie hit the open outer doors just as the inner doors slammed shut. The guards turned toward him, cyberware making their motions into a blur. But they still weren’t fast enough. Mana pushed his body faster than wires could. He caught the first guard as he raised his pistol, sidestepped and redirected the man’s shot toward the troll.
And caught him in the kneecap. The troll yowled in pain and fell back against the wall.
劇透 - :
That’s when Charlie heard the grumbling.
At first it sounded like the troll was mumbling to himself. He looked like he was trying to stand up, using the wall for balance, pushing himself off the floor with his good leg, but he was too shaky to make much progress. Charlie stared a moment longer. It finally occurred to him that the troll wasn’t armed. He wasn’t making much progress, but he was still mumbling. Charlie felt the air around him grow still and moist. He shifted his vision, moving between realities in a blink. The physical world dulled to grey, and the bright contrasts of the magical world flared up around him. In astral space the troll glowed like fire.
“Drek.” He barely had time to breathe the curse before a manabolt twisted in his gut. His own damn fault—he should have checked if the bodyguard was Awakened as soon as he saw him. He staggered, recovered, and raised his pistol to fire. Then the air was twisting, coalescing into something large, something amorphous, something wet that filled the entire entryway. It was a water elemental, and it surged forward, enveloping Charlie and casting him helplessly through the door. He bounced off the Nightsky limousine, and his pistol skittered across the pavement. No matter—the gun was useless against the advancing spirit. Charlie arched his back and flipped up to his feet. He sank into a fighter’s crouch, measuring this new opponent. He would have to rely on his hands, but that usually was enough.
The elemental had taken the shape of a pillar of waves. Chains dangled from its elongated arms, and its hands ended in sharp claws that were darting toward his face. Charlie ducked and rolled. He knew the troll was still moving, perhaps working on another spell, but he couldn’t take his attention off the spirit.
The spirit lunged, and Charlie spun backwards with exact timing, dancing just out of reach. It almost didn’t work—the spirit was sick fast. The manabolt was slowing Charlie down, and he couldn’t stay clear of the spirit much longer. If he kept dancing around, he would lose. He needed this over, fast.
劇透 - :
Charlie reached down into himself and grabbed hold of all the anger buried inside him. He thought about change, and loss, and the fear he wore like a mantle, and he carried the force of all of it up into his chest and through his arm. His fist carved through air and mana, blasting into the spirit. He felt the spirit’s form give way. Its head came apart against the ridge of Charlie Broken Horse’s fist, and the adept roared.
Charlie stumbled forward, thrown off balance by the sheer power of the blow. The troll mage was still there, reaching for him and mumbling. He braced himself against the impact of a second manabolt because he couldn’t stop the mage from casting it.
The force of the spell sent Charlie to his knees. His stomach lurched, and he felt his knees buckling. If he was hit by a third manabolt, the pain would overwhelm him.
Two gunshots split the air. The troll’s eyes rolled back in his head as he toppled over. Ladybug leaned over the hood of the Nightsky, firing three more times into the troll to be sure. “Lone Star is on the way. Get him in the fragging car, Charlie!”
Charlie offered a weak thumbs up. He climbed to his feet and scanned for Dr. Lieden. The good doctor appeared to be rooted in place. His head swung back and forth between the downed troll and bloody security men slumped in the entrance. He had Charlie’s gun in his hands, and he knew enough about weapons to spread his legs into a shooter’s stance. He raised the barrel of the gun toward Charlie and screamed, “What do you people want from me?!”
Charlie lunged towards his target. He met the scientist’s wide eyes and saw fear there. The man tried to squeeze the trigger. Nothing happened. The man tried again and again until Charlie snatched the pistol out of his hand.
“Biometric safety.” Charlie said as he grabbed him by the shoulder and tossed him in the back of the limo. The adept wiped the blood from his mouth, “Now, let’s all calm down so I have a chance to tell you what I want and you have a chance to give it to me.”
If he found Riser—when he found Riser—he’d make sure his boss knew what he went through to track him down.